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How Businesses Can Focus on Inclusivity Year-Round

More than 70% of U.S. states have either signed anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law or introduced anti-LGBTQ+ bills, according to Human Rights Campaign. So it’s not hard to imagine why a survey by Pantene found that 53% of LGBTQ+ workers feel like they have to hide their identity at work. This is not good for individuals or the businesses they work for. 

A non-inclusive work environment, where people don’t feel welcome to reveal their whole selves, can negatively impact a person’s well-being and productivity. Research shows that when people feel included and respected for who they are, their bodies produce hormones and energy that increase work performance. The most innovative and productive work experiences happen when we feel included and part of a team. Businesses miss out on these collaborative, high-performing experiences when the workplace is not inclusive.

How does inclusivity affect business?

Studies show that when an organization is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace, that commitment is reciprocated by workers. Research by the Limeade Institute and Artemis Connection revealed that when employees feel included they are:

  • 51% more likely to recommend their workplace to others
  • 43% more committed to their organization
  • 28% more engaged at the office
  • 19% more likely to report greater well-being 

That commitment translates into positive business outcomes. Deloitte researchers discovered that inclusive organizations, where inclusive strategies are embedded into nearly every management decision, outperform their peers, by a lot. Inclusive workplaces are:

  • 8x more likely to have better business outcomes
  • 6x more likely to be innovative
  • 6x more likely to anticipate and respond effectively to change
  • Twice as likely to meet or exceed financial goals

Pride Month may be over but organizational leaders should feel compelled to nurture an inclusive workplace year-round—for the sake of their employees and their business. Read on to learn what an inclusive workplace looks like, how to identify your organization’s level of inclusivity and tips for being inclusive all year, not just during Pride Month.

What does an inclusive workplace look like?

Whether you’re a business owner, manager, or employee, the first step to building an inclusive workplace is to want to be inclusive. And if you’re reading this, you’re already there–go you! Here are some attributes of an inclusive workplace:

  • When employees talk about the workplace culture, they mention that everyone in the group/department/company feels included and valued.
  • No matter who you talk to, every worker feels like an “insider” and like they “fit in.” 
  • Workers feel seen, respected and valued as individuals while also feeling a sense of belonging and connection to the larger organization.
  • Employees feel like they belong in the community, without having to alter their distinctive experiences, talents and perspectives to blend in.
  • People feel empowered to be themselves, discuss problems openly, introduce new ideas and make mistakes.

According to a Deloitte survey, more than 70% of organizations aspire to have an inclusive culture but only 12% are considered fully mature on the inclusivity spectrum. So why are organizations that claim they want to be inclusive falling short? Researchers suggest that organization leaders too often underestimate the amount of cultural change that’s necessary.

Tips for being inclusive at work

There are several tangible steps that organization leaders, managers and employees can take to be more inclusive at work. Here are a few.

Business/organization leaders

Rearchers have uncovered some key strategies that promote an inclusive workplace culture. The primary cultural shift that leaders can make is to approach diversity and inclusion the same way they approach other business-related objectives. Diversity and inclusion should not be treated as an HR or compliance issue but as a company-wide goal that drives success. After making this shift, leaders can:

  • Participate in up-to-date gender inclusivity and diversity trainings.
  • Hold other leaders and coworkers accountable for improving diversity and inclusion outcomes in the same way they hold them accountable for other business goals and policies.
  • Develop recruitment and hiring practices that focus not only on demographic diversity but diversity of thought as well.
  • Understand that diversity alone will not create an inclusive workplace. If diverse voices aren’t valued, there will be no inclusivity. Leaders can demonstrate that they value inclusivity and diversity by implementing programs that recognize individual uniqueness and promote a sense of belonging.
  • Provide resources that empower all employees and enable individuals to show up to work as their authentic selves. Resources can include trainings to help employees learn how to use inclusive language and understand bias and micrograssions.
  • Create inclusive facilities like gender-neutral bathrooms for staff.
  • Survey employees about the different holidays and events that they recognize and celebrate. When planning workplace recognitions/celebrations, be inclusive of all events that employees report recognizing.

Managers

Managers play a key role in supporting and enforcing inclusive practices in the workplace. They can demonstrate inclusivity by:

  • Recognizing employees for the value they add to the team. This can be done during one-on-one and team meetings as well as over email.
  • Designating time for employees to participate in learning and development activities of their choosing. This demonstrates that you value every individual’s personal interests and are committed to their professional growth.
  • Providing opportunities for collaboration. Collaboration sessions, where everyone has a voice, allow employees to share their unique perspectives and learn from the perspectives of their peers. 
  • Using inclusive language in greetings. When greeting groups of people, instead of “hey guys,” use “hello everyone” or “hi all.”

All employees

Employees have the power to impact work performance by making their peers feel included, or excluded. When they choose to help their peers feel included, employees boost energy and motivation levels, which increases job performance at the individual and team levels. Employees can be more inclusive at work by doing the following:

  • Lending a helping hand. When employees provide helpful information, offer advice or facilitate an introduction to other contacts, they’re contributing to their peer’s performance and productivity.
  • Recognizing a peer’s contributions. Endorsing a peer’s idea or work during a meeting is an easy but effective way to help them feel included and valued.
  • Talking to your peers. Emotional bonding takes place when you show an authentic interest in a peer’s life outside of work.
  • Never assume someone’s pronouns or that they identify with a particular gender. If you’re meeting someone and are unsure how they identify or which pronouns they use, address them by their name. You can introduce yourself and your pronouns then ask about their preferred pronouns—this demonstrates allyship and your desire to be inclusive. This can look like, “hi there, my name is Ebony and my pronouns are they/them, what pronouns do you like to use?”

How do I know if my organization is inclusive?

Start by thinking of inclusivity as something that exists on a spectrum—it’s not all or nothing. Instead of asking “Is my organization inclusive?” you can ask “How inclusive is my organization?”

One way to measure your organization’s level of inclusivity is to identify the goals of existing inclusivity initiatives and the persons responsible for those initiatives. If you measure inclusivity on a scale of 1-4, with 1 representing a less inclusive workplace and 4 representing a fully inclusive workplace, here are some examples of what each level might look like:

  • Level 1 – The focus of inclusivity initiatives is on compliance with diversity goals and the persons responsible are employees in the legal, human resources and diversity and inclusion departments.
  • Level 2 – The focus of inclusivity initiatives is on reaching demographic targets and the persons responsible are employees in the human resources and diversity and inclusion departments.
  • Level 3 – The focus of inclusivity initiatives is on addressing systemic cultural barriers and the persons responsible are organizational leaders.
  • Level 4 – The focus of inclusivity initiatives is on leveraging all forms of diversity, not just demographics, to better the organization and the persons responsible are all leaders and employees.

Here at The Haven we strive to be welcoming in all we do. One of our core values is inclusivity and The Haven seeks to be a space where community that supports social and economic equity and freedom of self can flourish. You can learn more about our commitment to inclusivity here.

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